Despite reports that NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a serious concussion last year, the organization has said it will not require that cognitive testing be done for drivers in 2013. However, the group did not rule out baseline cognitive tests for 2014 as it said it would continue to evaluate its procedures.
The famous driver suffered a concussion after a crash that took place at the end of August last year at the Kansas Speedway. Earnhardt suffered from some concussion symptoms after the crash but it has been revealed that he never had any follow-up exams. Perhaps worst of all, Earnhardt immediately returned to the regularly scheduled season and continued racing despite the brain trauma. He was then injured again and suffered a second concussion in a wreck that took place during the final lap of an early October race at Talladega Superspeedway.
This risk of re-injury is what can compound the effects of a concussion and lead to severe problems down the road. The doctors were sufficiently concerned after his second concussion and ordered him to sit out of races over the next two weeks. NASCAR officials claim they never knew about either concussion until Earnhardt revealed them after his second injury.
An official with NASCAR says the organization is still gathering information about concussions and is not yet prepared to release a policy regarding any new procedures. Rather than require baseline testing now, NASCAR intends to start by educating drivers about the dangers of brain injuries. Whether this will be enough to prevent other drivers from suffering the same injuries that have occurred in those who play professional football remains to be seen.
NASCAR could be seen as slow to act regarding head injuries as baseline testing, referred to as an ImPACT test, is already being used in the IndyCar Series. The test is administered before a new driver is allowed to compete in the series and then re-administered at least once every two years. The test measures a range of cognitive functions, including memory, reaction time, attention span and other cognitive abilities. If a driver suffers a head injury, doctors perform the test again and compare the results to the baseline to determine the severity of the impact and whether a driver can race again. NASCAR does no such testing.
If you, or someone you know, have any questions regarding personal injury claims, please feel free to contact the experienced injury lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina at Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation. Call at 704-370-2828.
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